This Isn’t Goodbye

by Stefani on 29-May-2008

It's been a very tough day.

Very. 

It started yesterday, when I was at my sewing table and heard this very strange noise from the backyard.

I walked out there and waited, staring at the chicken coop, and sure enough, saw and heard Rosemary crow. There was no mistaking it. This was not a hen noise. It was an honest to goodness, sing up the sun, wake the dead, cockadoodledoo. 

For a split second I was elated. My little boy! Growing up! It was this gorgeous, throaty, wonderful green grass and blue sky sound. Fantastic. 

And then, my heart sank because I knew the implications. Rosemary is a boy, a rooster, and that means he has to go.

Why did it have to be my favorite? Why did it have to be the funniest, friendliest, most personable of the bunch? Why Rosemary?

 I sent out notices to all our homeschooling email groups, and checked Craigslist, thinking that it might take me some time to find a new home for our guy. 

It didn't. Within a couple of hours we found the best solution we could possibly hope for.

A nice family that runs an art studio on acreage, not too far from us, was willing to take him. They have a white turkey, guineas, peafowl, and lots of chickens. They also have children and don't mind if we visit. 

And so, through many tears, we began our goodbyes.

We talked a lot about all the reasons we love Rosemary. We considered changing his name, but Ryder would have none of it. We talked about how roosters need room to roam and space to crow in, and how many new friends and how much fun he will have. We tried to look on the bright side – he will be well cared for, and we will be able to visit. 

We held him and snuggled him, A LOT. 

I could see that it was going to be really important to help my grieving men work through saying goodbye, so we made it Rosemary Day – a celebration of our love for him, and for his new life.

We gave him some special treats (toast and strawberry tops), and saved some of his feathers in bottles.

Pieces of Rosemary

We took lots of pictures of him and had some printed. Then, we painted and decorated special frames for each of their rooms. (In this first one, Ryder is putting a kiss on Rosemary's beak.)Together

Loved

Always Family

We even took a cast of his foot.

Remembering

When it finally came time to take him to his new abode, my boys were excited for their fella. 

They were sad, sure, but a happy for him too, and I guess that's the best you can hope for in a goodbye.

 When we got home, my oldest went out to check on the remaining girls. I peeked out there and heard him praying, "Please God, look out for Rosemary. Keep him safe and help him make new friends." It was all I could do to hold it together. 

And now, now that they are all tucked in and sleeping, I'm going to go and sit down with a glass of wine and have myself a good cry. 

Ridiculous, I know. Silly, sure. 

I'm sure all the real farmers out there will have a good laugh over this sappy city girl and her foolish attachment to a chicken. But there it is. I miss my beautiful, sweet, lovable Rosemary. 
Sarah Jackson May 29, 2008 at 8:43 pm

awww. Sweet Rosemary. Good for all of you for honoring him and finding him the best place for him to be. I’m sure he’ll miss you too!

Stephanie May 29, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Ohhh, so sad, but you did such a good job of turning it into something positive. Methinks you need a frame for your room, too.

heather May 29, 2008 at 9:28 pm

I recently found your blog, and I love it very much. After I read your post about the simplicity pattern 3835(?)I went straight out and got myself one. I’ve made two shirts and a dress from the pattern and I get compliments on them every time I wear them. I’m hoping to have photos posted on my blog very soon. I’ve only made myself a few things to wear before this, but now I’m all jacked up and ready to sew some more. Thanks for the confidence builder, and thanks for the beautiful and inspiring blog.

I’ve been wanting chickens for a long time. I still have more people to convince. Sorry about Rosemary. I’d cry too. With wine. That’s really the best way.

Heather

leslie May 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

oh sweetness, pure sweetness stef.

xoxoxo

brit May 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm

Nobody thinks your silly, and I’m hardly crying at all over here…..but as someone who has been around chickens I hate to bring up the point that if there isn’t a rooster….sometimes chickens….turn..

I’ve seen it happen…and the other chickens could turn into roosters…I don’t understand it. We should get a serious chicken person to explain it to us instead of brit…peripheral chicken girl.

Maybe you should have some more wine…

Autum May 30, 2008 at 4:13 am

Not silly or ridiculous at all. What this world needs is more mamas who teach their boys to love chickens and tenderly guide them through sadness and grief. I truly believe it would be a better place.

sarah May 30, 2008 at 4:38 am

not silly. we just got 24 chicks. and we know too, that if there’s a rooster, he’ll have to go. lovely, what you did.
and p.s. real farmers can get sappy too. i’ve known a few!

Eren May 30, 2008 at 4:57 am

Oh man…this tugs at this mamas heart strings too. Hang in there sweet familia.

Thimbleina May 30, 2008 at 5:04 am

So sweet!

miss chris May 30, 2008 at 5:18 am

Oh, Sweet Rosemary! Enjoy your new home and make lots of friends. With your personality, I’m sure you’ll have plenty before too long… *sniff*

michele, FL May 30, 2008 at 5:20 am

Not ridiculous at all! We seem to experience this quite frequently. Our last episode was with hermit crabs. They weren’t thriving so we took them back to the beach. They were MUCH happier there, but convincing two young ladies that it was best was the hard part.

Relyn May 30, 2008 at 5:24 am

Rosemary Day. A wonderful way to handle a sad time for your family. You have been gifted with so much mother-wisdom. It is sad, and I am sorry for your sadness. I am also struck at what a wonderful learning experience this was for your boys – because you were so wise.

No, we don’t ever wish our children to be sad. We never want them to have to face loss. But, it does happen in life. Too often. How great that you taught them already that a vital part of mourning and loss is celebrating the friend. Celebrating the love.

Wonderful parenting. Wonderful post.

diane May 30, 2008 at 5:25 am

Aww, I was so hoping Rosemary was going to be a hen in the end. Darn it. Now I need a glass of wine, too. I love LOVE the Rosemary foot print.

amanda May 30, 2008 at 5:38 am

Oh! Sweet Rosemary! I’m sorry, you guys!
Really, what beautiful beautiful mourning and celebrating you shared with your boys, Stefani. I admire it so much!

Tracy May 30, 2008 at 5:43 am

Not silly at all. I would do the same. I’m sorry you had to say goodbye, it sounds like you guys gave Rosemary the best send off he could ask for.

Susan T. May 30, 2008 at 5:47 am

Oh, so not ridiculous or silly at all. My son and I can completely understand. Rosemary Day was a great way to send off your fella. And he WILL be happy in his new home.

krisitn May 30, 2008 at 5:49 am

what in incredible sweet family you have. each day i read your blog (since i am a new visitor) i am in awe of all you do. your send off to Rosemary is nothing short of wonderful. and how wonderful that even in sadness they were excited for his new adventures… really truly an inspiration for all families. thank you for sharing.

OMSH May 30, 2008 at 5:58 am

Well I’m silly right alongside ya then, because I’m bawling like a baby right now.

Mandy May 30, 2008 at 6:39 am

You are so not silly. And when those boys are sweet and gently grown men they will remember the sweetest their mama showed them in honoring beloved Rosemary. When I was a little girl my dad let me keep a piglet runt. yeah just like Charlotte’s web. I woke up at 6am every morning before school and fed him with a medicine dropper until he was big enough to eat from a baby bottle. I snuggled him and even walked him on a leash. When it got cold and he had to be moved to the barn he didn’t make it through the winter. i will never forget watching my dad carry a box with my Jobi in it to the bottom of the hill to bury it. Blessings to you and the boys!

FireMom May 30, 2008 at 7:07 am

This is the sweetest post I have read for a long time.

Thank you for that.

I’m sure Rosemary will enjoy his new home.

Mariss May 30, 2008 at 7:15 am

That was incredibly sweet and touching. In fact, my throat tightened up as I read your words. Your boys (and Rosemary and the hens) are very lucky. You did a great job to help them through the process.

Natalie May 30, 2008 at 7:43 am

Congratulations on finding such an ideal home for your dear Rosemary. I am sorry he cannot live with you. We had a teeny-tiny “runt” chick we named Sunshine. Boy o boy did Sunshine grow! and the first time s/he crowed we were amused, stunned and a bit worried. It was not easy saying goodbye. You’ve shared such a poignant time in your lives… thank you.

Lisa Clarke May 30, 2008 at 8:54 am

No, not silly at all. But how wonderful that you could turn your grief into such positive remembrances. Your boys are so lucky!

Karen May 30, 2008 at 9:03 am

What an adorable way to remember your baby, I especially loved the foot cast :D…and it is an added blessing that you can always visit Rosemary…very fortuitous!

Karen May 30, 2008 at 9:04 am

p.s. I also recently found your blog and am inspired to install the grow box technique next growing season (we live in the Southernmost part of the US and just ended our backwards growing season – Nov-May)

Justyna - Funky Monkey Photography May 30, 2008 at 9:55 am

OMG what a sweet story!

mamaroots May 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

wow- what a great post, you brought me straight from the front of my computer right back to when I was a little girl- my rooster was Black Jack- and we had to take him to another farm also but likewise got to visit often- what a great gift for your kiddos! have a wonderful weekend!

Paige May 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Only a favorite saying from our house seems to do at moment like this….
Wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaah.

So sorry it was a he. If in time you look for a new chic to make your pair an even three (in my mind three is when it becomes level and even) I would suggest a Dominique. They are very pretty birds and very full of personality. We have a Dom and an Orpington. You can order them from a poultry farm in Cameron.

sperlygirl May 30, 2008 at 12:56 pm

what a beautiful post…funny how life sometimes throws a curve ball like this one. i admire your honest, heartfelt musings and was happy to read how you found the positive within this situation. wishing you a lovely weekend!

Ansley May 30, 2008 at 2:36 pm

I feel for you….I wonder about my little chicks as well….
I’m sure Rosemary will make new friends!

Mim May 30, 2008 at 3:38 pm

What a toucvhing story! Your boys are so blessed to have a mom like you who celebrates hens (and roosters) and takes casts of beloved fowl feet.

jessica May 30, 2008 at 4:30 pm

You’re not silly missing Rosemary! I love the mementos you made to remember him.

Jenna May 30, 2008 at 8:26 pm

very sweet and touching your whole family was so attached to rosemary. my favorite was the foot cast. 🙂 made me chuckle and cry a little, all at the same time. so very sweet.

Jody May 30, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Not silly at all. I love that you did a cast of his foot. So tender.

amy j May 31, 2008 at 5:20 am

I’m so sorry that Rosemary had to go, but I must admit, the claw print momento is spectacular!

molly May 31, 2008 at 8:33 am

i don’t think this is silly at all, and I totally get this. we’ll miss tales of rosemary. but find comfort knowing she’s in such a good home….

xox.

Berlinswhimsy May 31, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Oh Stefani, I know how you must feel! We just today are beginning to realize that our “hen” (the one my kids named “Macho”) is probably a rooster. We have not heard a crow but we read up on roosters today and believe Macho is probably a Macho Rooster. AND Macho is the friendliest of the bunch—-like our pet. That was one of the indications of a rooster, too—they are often the most likely to befriend you.

So, I totally understand how hard this must be for you all and I’m sending you my thoughts from one chicken owner to another. It’s amazing how those chickens peck their way into our hearts… They’re “only” chickens, for pete’s sake!

Rebecca May 31, 2008 at 4:03 pm

I found you through Heather at Oh My Stinkin’ Heck.

Great, great post.

erin May 31, 2008 at 7:48 pm

dang it! i had my fingers crossed that he was really a she. hugs, friends!

spokanemama May 31, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Oh how sad. We got 3 little chicks last spring. I went out and had pep talks with them every day. Kind of the birds and bees of chicken life….

“You need to be girls, you need to start laying eggs…or you will need to be on our dinner plate.”

The pep talk worked! We have 3 hens and more days than not we get 2-3 eggs!

Julie@Letter9 June 1, 2008 at 5:06 am

Aw, it’s not silly. It’s sweet. What good guys you have there.

Kelsey June 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Our Marilyn has turned into a Marty…2 of our 8 actually are roosters…I love the way you handled the situation…your children will respect you for doing the right thing for you, maybe not the easiest, but for going about it the right way.

debra cooper June 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm

We just went through the same thing, except Beyond (named by my 6 yr old son) wasn’t a sweetheart like Rosemary. He was mean and obnoxious but we loved him and it was very difficult to let him go. We live on the TX/Mexico border and also had a really hard time finding a home for him. Everyone we found willing to take him, would fight him. We just couldn’t let that happen so we held onto him forever until he really started hurting our hens and we gave him back to the feed store (we were told he was a she initially). So hard!! What made the whole thing even more traumatic was that only a few days after Beyond left, two fat racoons attacked one of our hens (Chi-chi) and maimed her. We lost Chi-chi and it was one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. Every time I think of it I want to cry–over a chicken! I feel silly and sappy but I love my chickens and don’t care who knows it! Beyond was mean but he protected our girls and we do miss him. Now we have 7 new baby chicks and will be going through the same thing all over again next Spring! 😉

emily ruth June 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm

so incredibly sweet…

Maureen June 2, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Awww… it doesn’t matter if it’s a chicken, a cat or a dog. If you love another living thing, it’s hard to part from them.

I think it’s wonderful that your family are such great animal lovers.

Maureen June 2, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Awww… it doesn’t matter if it’s a chicken, a cat or a dog. If you love another living thing, it’s hard to part from them.

I think it’s wonderful that your family are such great animal lovers.

Sugar Creek Farm June 3, 2008 at 7:19 am

Actually I think those that get attached to their animals make the best farmers. (Hugs)

miguette June 3, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I’m so sorry that you had to say goodbye to your favorite not-so-little chicken.

One thing I’ve learned is NEVER to feel silly about crying. (and this is a darn good reason to shed a few)

Paper Dolls for Boys June 4, 2008 at 4:21 am

What a wonderful way to honor Rosemary and to help your kiddos through a hard separation. Well handled!

Glad you found RM a great new home that you’ll be able to visit.

And most of all, thanks for sharing. It is a wonderfully written account.

Holly June 6, 2008 at 11:05 am

Wow. That is just about the most touching thing ever. I teared up just as much as I did when my little girl asked me yesterday if Grandpa Jerry (a friend, not her real grandfather) was going to come home from heaven when Jesus made him “all better”. Thank you for leading your boys through their grief so tenderly. They’ll remember that forever.

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